That combination led to an 83-62 victory for the Jayhawks.
We will look back at it in a moment in another edition of Player Ratings, but for now let’s examine the race for a Big 12 championship. K-State and Kansas are tied in first at 8-3 while Oklahoma State sits a half game back with struggling Texas Tech next up on the schedule. Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor all have four losses, but right now it seems like there are only three main contenders.
They could all be labeled the favorite. Oklahoma State has the most talent (Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash, Markel Brown) and an ideal remaining schedule (K-State and Kansas still have to go to Stillwater). Kansas has the most experience coming off eight straight Big 12 titles. And nobody takes care of business better than K-State. The Wildcats don’t have any bad losses.
But all three teams have flaws. The Cowboys are young and have never been in this situation before. Besides, do you really trust Travis Ford as a coach when the pressure is on? The Jayhawks have issues at point guard and will be haunted by a loss at TCU the rest of the way. Their schedule is back-loaded with remaining games at Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor. The Wildcats aren’t getting consistent play inside and play at Texas a week after Myck Kabongo’s return. Kansas and Oklahoma State avoided that road challenge.
It’s a wide-open race that could go in many different directions. Maybe even a three-way tie. No matter what, it will be fun to watch.
OK, onto the Player Ratings:
Rodney McGruder – 8: McGruder had a brilliant second half and finished with 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. But he was quiet early on, and lost four turnovers. That offset an otherwise strong performance.
Last game: 9.5. Average: 8.13.
Angel Rodriguez – 8: Short of making a few more shots, Rodriguez did all he could. He got to the hoop and scored 17 points, made three three-pointers and had six assists and three steals.
Last game: 8.5. Average: 7.3.
Will Spradling – 7: Here’s guessing Spradling wishes he could have scored 10 points at Bramlage Coliseum instead of Allen Fieldhouse. He played well on Monday, scoring 10 points and avoiding mistakes in 35 minutes of action.
Last game: 7. Average: 6.5.
Shane Southwell – 6: He made two three-pointers in the first half that gave K-State a chance to make things interesting in the second and came through with four steals, but he didn’t do much else. Southwell missed six of eight shots and was out-played by Kevin Young (13 points, nine rebounds) after playing great against Kansas last month.
Last game: 6.75. Average: 7.2.
Jordan Henriquez – 4: Henriquez got into early foul trouble and was no match for Jeff Withey. Henriquez had two points and five rebounds, but also lost three turnovers and missed an open dunk.
Last game: 5. Average: 5.4.
Martavious Irving – 3: His string of strong games came to an end. K-State’s sixth man was held to just two points in 12 minutes. He also lost two turnovers and failed to come through on defense.
Last game: 8. Average: 6.4.
Thomas Gipson – 2: For whatever reason, Gipson has been called for fouls at an alarming rate against Kansas this season. He had four fouls in the first game and fouled out in 14 minutes on Monday. That made him a non-factor, going scoreless and leaving K-State short a big man.
Last game: 9. Average: 6.
Nino Williams – 3: With so many K-State forwards battling foul trouble this was his chance to make a bigger impact, but he only scored two points.
Last game: 4. Average: N/A.
D.J. Johnson – 1: He seemed lost on offense and was held scoreless.
Last game: 4. Average: N/A.